Bird’s-nest Orchid in Ashdown Forest

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Picture of Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's-nest Orchid)
Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid). Photo: Brad Scott

Two spikes of this rather beige plant are now visible at the known site on Ashdown Forest. Both its common and scientific names refer to the supposedly nest-like appearance of the roots.[1] Though xanthophyll and chlorophyll a have been reported in it (but not chlorophyll b), it is a plant species that does not photosynthesise, instead gaining its energy as a result of a myco-heterotrophic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi in the soil,[2] which are in the family Sebacinaceae.[3]

Given the binomial Ophrys nidus-avis by Linnaeus, it was given its current preferred name Neottia nidus-avis by the French botanist Louis Claude Richard (1754-1821), the author of De Orchideis europaeis (1817).[4]

[1] See image in “Neottia Nidus-avis – Bird’s Nest Orchid.” Loire Valley Nature (blog), August 2008. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[2] Arditti, Joseph. “Aspects of the Physiology of Orchids.” Advances in Botanical Research 7 (1980): 421-655. doi:10.1016/s0065-2296(08)60091-9.

[3] Selosse, Marc-Andre, Michael Weiss, Jean-Luc Jany, and Annie Tillier. “Communities and Populations of Sebacinoid Basidiomycetes Associated with the Achlorophyllous Orchid Neottia Nidus-avis (L.) L.C.M. Rich. and Neighbouring Tree Ectomycorrhizae.” Molecular Ecology 11, no. 9 (2002): 1831-844. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294x.2002.01553.x.

[4] “Louis Claude Richard.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 27, 2016.


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